YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A resident in one of Yokota’s tower apartments decides to store a gasoline can in the storage closet outside his residence.

Maybe he forgets about it and leaves it there for a few months as fall turns to winter and the heating system turns on. Fumes collect in the small closet, or maybe the can springs a leak. Either way, the potential for fire is great.

That is the kind of situation the Yokota housing office is working to prevent by conducting monthly inspections of residential storage closets throughout the base.

When the heat gets turned on, inspections become that much more critical.

“The primary goal of the inspections is safety,” said David Kea, one of the inspectors, adding that the main items they look for include propane tanks, gas cans and other flammables or toxic materials. Other prohibited items include trash, shopping carts and items issued to residents by base housing, such as appliances and furniture.

Kea said residents who have had appliances and furniture issued to them but no longer need them should return the items to housing to issue to others.

“It’s all right if you keep a leaf insert from a table in the closet,” he said. “But we’ve found whole bed sets being stored.”

Kea said inspectors have even found a motorcycle stored in a ninth-floor storage closet.

In some towers, residents share storage closets. In those areas, inspections aren’t just about safety; they are also about being considerate when sharing communal space.

In an inspection on Friday, Kea showed off one closet in which a resident was storing 17 car tires and one engine.

Residents are usually pretty good about removing items that have been flagged, Kea said. But every once in a while, inspectors have to contact a resident’s commander or first sergeant. If an item’s ownership cannot be identified, it will be disposed of during a follow-up inspection, he added.

For more information, call the housing office at 225-9099.

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